By Tayo Salami
March 28, 2014
Islam means complete submission to Allah by choice and conviction, not through force and compulsion. Islam accommodates and welcomes all people as brothers and sisters regardless of their distinctive association or background. The attitude of Islam towards the faithful of other religions is not only to show tolerance towards their beliefs, but also to affirm a non-negotiable Islamic principle of tolerance and religious responsibility.
Through the course of its history, Islam has granted people of other faiths the highest degree of tolerance. Although some of their practices might have been in conflict with Islam. It was this degree of tolerance that the Muslims adopted towards their non-Muslims citizens.
It is the spirit of tolerance that underlies upright attitudes, benevolent dealings, respect for one’s neighbours, and all the sincere sentiments of piety, compassion and courtesy. It is expected for every Muslims to imbibe such attitudes towards their neighbours
Many Qur’anic teachings have emphasized dealings with non-Muslims with justice and respect, especially, those who live in peace with the Muslims and do not raise enmity against them.
Qur’an chapter 60 verse 8 states that, “Allah does not forbid you concerning those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes from being righteous towards them and acting justly towards them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”
Although, Muslims might disagree with other ideological systems and religious doctrines, this should not prevent them from demonstrating the correct manner of discussion and interaction with non-Muslims.
Qur’an 29 verse 46 states, “And do not argue with the people of the scripture (Christians and Jews) except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them and say we believe in what has been revealed to you. And our God and your God is one and we are Muslims (in submissions) to Him.”
While speaking on religious tolerance among one another, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar said there is the need for different religion faithful to tolerate one another so as to prevent religious violence. He urged people to live in peace and continue to tolerate one another, adding that Nigeria is a secular state but a multi-religious country where everyone must learn to live in peace and harmony.
Speaking on the same issue, Professor Abdul Rahman Oloyede, the Chief Imam of the University of Ibadan Central Mosque advised Muslims and non-Muslims to live in peace and to have good rapport with themselves so as to foster peace and unity in the society.
Oloyede said, “I have friends among Christians and I visit them and they visit me as well. We should learn to appreciate one another so that peace can reign in the society. Islam preaches religious tolerance and Islamic teachings should be imbibed in us so that Muslims would lay good examples for non-Muslims.”
Abdullahi Alqahtani said, “Tolerance in Islam has ideological basis in the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet, it is not subjected to human interference. Therefore, it is a constant principle that does not change over time or place. According to the Qur’an, every human being is to be honoured as Allah honoured him/her.
“In Islam, injustice is regarded as one of the greatest sins. Therefore, oppressing people because they have different beliefs is rejected.”
Dr. Muzammil Siddiq said, “Islam may tolerate anything, but it teaches zero tolerance for injustice, oppression, and violation of the rights of other human beings.
“The Qur’an speaks about the basic dignity of all human beings. The Prophet, (S.A.W) spoke about the equality of all human beings, regardless of their race, colour, language or ethnic background. Shari`ah recognizes the rights of all people to life, property, family, honour and conscience.
“Muslims have been generally very tolerant people. We must emphasize this virtue among us and in the world today. Tolerance is needed among our communities . We must foster tolerance through deliberate policies and efforts. Our centers should be multi-ethnic. We should teach our children respect of each other. We should not generalize about other races and cultures. We should have more exchange visits and meetings with each other.
“With non-Muslims we should have dialogue and good relations, but we cannot accept things that are contrary to our religion. We should inform them what is acceptable to us and what is not. With more information, I am sure the respect will develop and more cooperation will develop.”